Musica Sacra performs Spirit and Splendor: Schütz & Handel

Kent Tritle Conducts Musica Sacra. Courtesy musicasacrany.com
Kent Tritle Conducts Musica Sacra. Courtesy musicasacrany.com

NEW YORK – Musica Sacra performs Spirit and Splendor: Schütz & Handel

Tonight, Musica Sacra presented another musical, artistic, and spiritual triumph at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. The featured works, Musikalische Exequien by Heinrich Schütz and Dixit Dominus by Georg Frederic Handel were performed with splendid soloists, sublime virtuosity, and artistry.

The program booklet was excellent, with inciteful program notes, full texts and translations, and artist biographies.

L-R: Elisse Albian, Soprano, courtesy elissealbian.com. Emily Donato, Soprano, courtesy emilydonato.com, Kirsten Sollek, Contralto, courtesy kirstensollek.com. Richard Pittsinger, Tenor, photo by Mei Day. Nathaniel Sullivan, Baritone, photo by Daniel Welch. Joseph Beutel, Bass Baritone, courtesy josephbeutel.com

L-R: Elisse Albian, Soprano, courtesy elissealbian.com. Emily Donato, Soprano, courtesy emilydonato.com, Kirsten Sollek, Contralto, courtesy kirstensollek.com. Richard Pittsinger, Tenor, photo by Mei Day. Nathaniel Sullivan, Baritone, photo by Daniel Welch. Joseph Beutel, Bass Baritone, courtesy josephbeutel.com



Divine Pathways

This sanctum of the cathedral’s magnificent nave was adorned with the visual splendor of Anne Patterson’s “Divine Pathways.” Along with the cathedral’s visual grandeur and superb acoustic properties, tonight’s musical offerings ensured that listeners basked in visual beauty and musical messages of centuries past.

The evening began with a pre-concert talk by Maestro Kent Tritle and artist Anne Patterson, who crafted “Divine Pathways,” described as a “stunning site-specific textile installation.” They took audience questions as they discussed music, visual art, synesthesia, and the energies emanating from sound.

World Class Artists

In the minutes before the musicians arrived on stage, I reflected on how fortunate those in attendance were. Tonight’s concert was a special evening to enjoy live music with world-class artists performing some of the finest liturgical choral works from the Renaissance. The worldview and dedication of artists like Kent Tritle and Musica Sacra and institutions like St. John the Divine ensure that the finest works written for liturgical purposes continue to be performed and remain accessible to broad audiences.

Divine Pathways by Anne Patterson. Courtesy annepatterson.com

Divine Pathways by Anne Patterson. Courtesy annepatterson.com

The selection of musical works was fascinating and inspiring.

Innovative

Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien (Musical Funerals), Op. 7, SWV 279–281, is an innovative 17th-century work tailored for funeral rites and sung in German. It was crafted for the funeral of Heinrich Posthumus Reuss, a noble patron of Schütz. The ensemble well-portrayed the work’s structures, textural choices, and emotional depth, demonstrating Schütz’s mastery over a blend of text and music influenced by Italian early Baroque styles and his Lutheran faith.



Moreover, Musica Sacra vividly conveyed emotional veracities, from sorrow and supplication to optimism and elation, aligning with an emphasis on personal faith, spiritual veracities, and connection with the infinite. It also embodied the theological and musical treasures of the work’s provenance.

Word Painting

As Handel’s Dixit Dominus (HWV 232) began, the composer’s iconic genius was conspicuous and familiar. The audience luxuriated in a work notable for its dramatic energy, virtuosic vocal lines, and rich contrapuntal textures. We heralded the psalm’s dramatic textual essences and royal imagery in movements like “Virgam virtutis tuae” with its heroic, majestic characters. Listeners reveled in Handel’s use of “word painting,” evident in the “De torrente in via bibet,” where flowing lines of voices and strings mimicked the flow of water contrasting to the reflective “Dominus a dextris tuis” and the vigorous rhythmic vitality of “Juravit Dominus.”

It was an evening of reflection, opulent listening, Baroque grandeur, and dramatic flair with a superb choir, orchestra, and soloists.

Bravo!

Be sure to follow Maestro Kent Tritle and Musica Sacra to attend their marvelous concerts featuring expertly curated repertoire performed by world-class artists.

Music Sacra taking bows to thunderous applause. Photo by Edward Kliszus

Music Sacra taking bows to thunderous applause. Photo by Edward Kliszus

Musica Sacra performs Spirit and Splendor: Schütz & Handel

At the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

The Program

Heinrich Schütz: Musikalische Exequien

Georg Frederik Handel: Dixit Dominus

“Performed under Divine Pathways, seating the audience beneath the stunning site-specific textile installation by artist Anne Patterson and weaving in these with glorious sounds of the baroque era!”

Musica Sacra Chorus
Kent Tritle, music director/conductor
Elisse Albian and Emily Donato, sopranos
Kirsten Sollek, contralto
Richard Pittsinger, tenor
Nathaniel Sullivan, baritone
Joseph Beutel, bass-baritone



Readers may also enjoy our reviews of The American Classical Orchestra performs Bach’s B minor Mass, Oratorio Society of NY Performs Mahler, Beethoven, and Karen P. Thomas,  Park Avenue Chamber Symphony Records TchaikovskyPeter and the WolfTranscendent Triumph and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2,  and The Park Avenue Chamber Symphony performs Mahler’s Symphony No. 5.

Musica Sacra performs Spirit and Splendor: Schütz & Handel

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